This is a review of "Once Around The Sun" recorded by Portabello. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2002.
Portabello are a professional bunch. This CD is well produced, looks good and is being pushed through major retail chains nationwide from an independent base without using the usual distributors. Clever stuff.
Their nifty website quotes a review that compares them to Jeff Buckley, which is an unfortunate place to start. I listened once through Portabello's CD, then played "Last Goodbye" (live and studio versions) from Jeff Buckley.
Portabello are nothing like Jeff Buckley. Nowhere near. Portabello are the best kind of craftsmen joiners, Buckley was a magician. Portabello are spot on session musicians. Buckley was a wayward chaos monger with a voice like an angel.
So I had to start all over again. New readers start here:
Portabello do good songs very well, with a rock/funk pedigree lurking in the background. Their roots seem to go back to the mid eighties. Their current output is in a territory all of its own, inventing its own rules and creating its own audience. Soulful, but not tore down. Tuneful, but not flying. Funky, but not sexy.
Very listenable for sure. After that inevitable disappointment of it being not Buckley, each subsequent play brought something fresh to like and to enjoy. Declan Corcoran leads from the front with a beltingly strong voice. Bass drums and guitar (with occasional synth) are well deployed. The album mixes live tracks and studio tracks that are distinct as songs, but indistinguishable in terms of sound. They're proud of the musicianly quality this demonstrates and rightly so.
"A Song" Stands out as anthemically exciting. "Cabaret" has a good modern sound, with a fierce tune and stingingly fine guitar riffs. There are no duff tracks at all. If you can't decide between Ocean Colour Scene, Electric Soft Parade and Portabello, get Portabello. In fact, go buy Portabello ahead of nearly all the current crop of indie tunesmith type people. Maybe they're not all as pretty as ESP, but their CD will stand a lot more plays as time goes by.